Written on August 25, 2010 at 2:18 am by Christine Ka’aloa
Just how crazy is motorcycle culture in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City? It’s insane! (video here) In HCMC, the two-wheeled chariot populates roughly 90% of the roadway (highways included). Thus, the Vietnamese are as comfortable on their motorbikes, the way L.A. drivers are in their sunglasses and cars! People hang out on their motorbikes, leisurely checking their cellphones, eating or reading their morning newspaper; lounge on them like sofa chairs and practice the art of balance by sleeping on them as nomadic beds. In addition, going to the park at night is like going to a motorbike make out point — couples park, share a cuddle and occasionally, spoon on their bikes.
In fact, the motorbike is the family station wagon in Vietnam! Just call it Mr. Mule. The Vietnamese can pack-stack literally anything, from an entire family of four, mountainous crates of chickens to a 20 foot long store sign (yes, as dangerous as it was, I’ve seen it done and I’d hate to see that guy get into an accident).
Motorcycle garages make sure your vehicle is safe from theft; and as added precaution, families bring their motorcycles into their homes at night, storing it in their living room (at least this what I’ve seen so far).
If all that driving makes you hungry? Instead of fast food drive thru businesses, HCMC has their own drive-by food sellers. Street food vendors and ladies with baskets of foods and snacks squat on the side of the road as motorbikes line up for a sandwich or snacks.
(Above) A line for the motorcycle parking lot.
Three vital Vietnamese fashion accessories:
A) The face mask
Pollution levels seem high with the constant stream of motorcycles on the road, such that a regular-sized nose and mouth dressing don’t feel adequate. Masked like motorcycle bandits, some motorists don the “extended version” of the mask and it’s sized to fit Darth Vadar!
(Above and below) See how this version covers more?
B) The rain poncho
Rain storms and monsoon season are a part of the hazards of the two-wheeled ride; thus, Vietnamese adapt on a moment’s notice. First drop of rain, out come plastic rain ponchos!
C) A Helmet
In Vietnam, safety regulations don’t mean you can’t have a stylish personality.